Tens of thousands of people have applied online to get divorced since the application process was digitised, a family lawyer has discovered.
The Ministry of Justice introduced a digital application process in May 2018 as part of a wider £1bn modernisation programme.
Tony Roe, a consultant at Reading firm Penningtons Manches Cooper, was told by HM Courts & Tribunals Service that more than 70,000 people have applied online.
Roe contacted HMCTS after the president of the Family Division revealed further details about the HMCTS reform programme in December’s View from the President’s Chamber.
Sir Andrew McFarlane said that, since the summer, litigants in person have been able to conduct their divorce proceedings entirely online, and nearly 80% of them are choosing the digital system. Following a successful pilot, which included more than 100 firms, the service was opened up to legal professionals.
Roe said: ‘Extending the online service to all law firms is a great step forward and means that practitioners can take advantage of the speed and efficiency of online divorce. I understand that next steps in relation to the divorce online service will be to expand it so applications can be made for bailiff service, deemed service and dispensed with service.’
Latest government statistics show that 29,531 divorce petitions were lodged between July and September last year – down 3% on the same quarter in 2018. However, 39% were made digitally, up from 28% the previous year.